RS 02815.025 Disclosure of Information
In handling telephone inquiries, we must be mindful of the fact that we can only disclose certain claims information without written consent to the claimant, his representative or authorized district office personnel. Disclosure of payment information should be made in the form of a notice to that individual after identifying information is verified upon review of the claims folder (date of birth, social security number, address, father's name and mother's name). Other individuals entitled on the same record may receive information pertaining to themselves or which affects their own entitlement. The social security number holder may received that information which pertains to themselves, including benefit or entitlement information on other persons entitled based upon that record.
Medical evidence or the interpretation thereof, should never be discussed with the caller. Instead, advise the caller that there are special procedures to be followed. Inform him that a written authorization from the individual is necessary and when this is received that the claims folder will be obtained and referred to the proper component for review and reply to the inquiry.
A. NEWS MEDIA
It is SSA's policy to cooperate with the media and furnish them information consistent with our responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of social security records. In those cases where the media representative does not have written consent, inform the individual that we are unable to discuss specifics of the case; however, we can supply the representative with general information (i.e., steps followed in processing a claim). Obtain the claimant's name, address and other identifying information and assure the media representative that the requested information will be furnished directly to the individual. In our notice to the claimant, inform him that the action was a result of his request to the media. In those cases where the media representative supplies written consent, information may be furnished to the individual. (See GN 03305.025M.)
If an inquiry is received from a Congressman and it is not clear that consent has been obtained from the individual, call the Congressman and ask if he has consent. If the Congressman indicates that he has consent from the individual, document the folder to that effect and answer the inquiry. If the Congressman does not have consent, inform him that, due to the confidential nature of our records, specific information cannot be released to him unless consent is obtained from the individual. Ask the Congressman whether he will obtain consent or if he prefers that we respond directly to the individual. (See GN 00305.001)
C. FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS
Inquiries from friends, neighbors, separated and divorced spouses; in other words, people not necessarily entitled to payment information can be accepted if they are reporting a problem that a beneficiary is having. Information from the record of the individual cannot be disclosed; however, general information can be furnished, efforts can be initiated to resolve the problem and the beneficiary advised that the action was the result of an inquiry on his behalf.